Not long ago, I was the Cartoonist-in-Residence at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. This was great fun, and one of the unexpected perks was that there was a ukelele concert going on down the street. So before I headed to the museum, I got to sit outside and listen to some quality ukelele.
I also got to thinking about this very strong culture that surrounds the ukelele, and many other things - Dungeons and Dragons, Civil War reenactments, Scrabble, quilting, gosh it just goes on and on. What fun that is.
And from there, I got to thinking about how within families, sometimes these cultures can dominate the expectations for the kids -- sometimes you're expected to go into academia, or be a doctor, or at least partake of the family fruitcake every year (I am the mutant in my family who does not eat pumpkin pie -- although instead of scorn, I just get kind of gratitude for leaving more for other people to eat).
So, that's how I came up with the family with the banjo tradition, and the terrible tension that might arise if one of the kids were to disregard tradition by taking up the ukelele instead. Plus, of course, I got to include the phrase "Family Banjo Tradition." That was worth it.